Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
Arizona State University
University of South Florida
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 8, no. 13 (February 21, 2000).
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c February 21, 2000
Statewide professional development conference : useful strategy for learning or inefficient use of resources? / Paul V. Bredeson [and] Jay Parades Scribner.
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1 of 17 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 8 Number 13February 21, 2000ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2000, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education A Statewide Professional Development Conference: Useful Strategy for Learning or Inefficient Use of Resources? Paul V. Bredeson University of Wisconsin-Madison Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri-ColumbiaAbstractIn an environment increasingly skeptical of the eff ectiveness of large-scale professional development activities, th is study examines K-12 educators' reasons for participating and belie fs in the utility in a large-scale professional development conference. Pr eand post-conference surveys revealed that while financi al support played a significant role in educators' ability to participa te, they were drawn to the conference by the promise to learn substantive issu es related to, in this case, performance assessment—what it means, how to implement it, and how to address community concerns. In spite of the conference's utility as a means to increase awareness of critical issues and to facilitate formal and informal learning, well conceived linkages to t ransfer new knowledge to the school and classroom were lacking.


2 of 17 The professional development of teachers ha s increasingly been viewed as a fundamental ingredient of successful educational re form and local school improvement in the United States (Fullan, 1995; Little, 1993). For example, by the latter half of the 19th century normal schools and colleges in the US regularly offered summer workshops and institutes for teacher professional improvement These included such opportunities as workshops, courses, in-services, training sessio ns, extension work, and internships designed to address the needs of teachers and imple ment local school, district and state education policies (Little, 1993). Both paradox and promise have helped forge the link between educational reform and training and develop ment. In some cases the quality, training, and competence of education professionals have been viewed as a major obstacle to educational reform—one that needed to b e remediated through prescribed training (National Commission on Excellence in Educ ation, 1983; Smiley, 1996). In other instances, policy makers, researchers, and ed ucators have argued that teachers are not the problem but rather the primary creators of solutions to the vexing problems that confront educators in a dynamic public education sy stem serving a culturally diverse nation (Smylie, 1996; Bredeson, 1998; Corcoran, 199 5; NFIE, 1996). Corcoran (1995) speaks directly to the promise of professional deve lopment in education. "It is now widely recognized that the success of these reform initiatives depends in large part on the quality and accessibility of professional devel opment for teachers" (Corcoran, 1995, p. vi). Even the casual reader of educational refor m reports, legislative mandates, and contemporary educational literature would soon disc over one common theme: professional development is critical to systemic ed ucational reform and school improvement focussed on enhancing learning outcomes for all children in public education (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996). Research has clearly indicated that teachers-as-learners are critical to pedagogical, s ocial, political, and economic goals here in the US and other countries. For example, the pro fessional development of teachers is offered as a primary educational reform strategy in tended to help schools and teachers develop more rigorous curriculum standards, design meaningful educational assessments, facilitate organizational change, guid e school improvement plans, and improve teachers' knowledge and skills to enhance s tudent learning outcomes. These include calls to create stable, high quality source s of professional development (NCTAF, 1996); incorporate professional learning into the f abric of daily life in schools (NFIE, 1996; Scribner, 1999); establish professional devel opment as a central component of state and local educational reform (Houghton & Gore n, 1995); transform professional development to meet urgent educational needs (Corco ran, 1995); consider alternatives to traditional training models of staff development (L ittle, 1993); deal more directly with issues of racism and inequity in schools (Weissglas s, 1997); and break the mold to classroom practices through new professional develo pment practices ( McLaughlin & Oberman, 1996). Given the centrality of professional develo pment to educational reform expressed in myriad activities, it is equally important to un derstand teachers' experiences with and beliefs about their own professional development (D arling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995; Lieberman, 1995). To address part of this lar ger question, this study examines educators' (including teachers, principals and spec ialists) experiences and beliefs as they pertain to one vehicle for professional development —professional conferences. While the limitations of conferences as a delivery mechan ism for professional growth have long been extolled (e.g., Joyce, 1990; Little 1993) we examined participants experiences in one statewide (Wisconsin) professional developme nt conference to more fully understand (1) the potential benefits of large scal e professional conferences and (2) the


3 of 17influence these conferences may have on professiona l learning and the school change process. Specifically, we sought to answer the foll owing questions: (1) what motivated participants to attend a large scale conference and what were their expectations; (2) what types of knowledge did participants acquire at the conference; and (3) what role may the knowledge acquired play in participant and/or schoo l improvement?Conceptual Organizers We use two conceptual lenses to shed light on this study. First, we borrow Schlechty and Whitford's (1983) useful typology of professional development to examine the intended and unintended purposes and ex pectations inherent in large scale conferences. Second, we employ a professional knowl edge framework to make sense of what types of knowledge these educators may (or may not) have learned in this setting. A Professional Development Typology Students of teacher learning have categoriz ed professional development activities in different ways. Perhaps one of the most useful and enduring frameworks to examine specific activities is Schlechty and Whitford's (19 83). They described professional development activities as serving one or more of th ree functions: (1) an establishment function (e.g., increasing awareness) when the purp ose is to promote organizational change through the implementation of programs, tech nologies, or procedures in schools and school districts; (2) an enhancement function (e.g., apply to and improve practice) to improve teacher effectiveness; or (3) a maintenance function (e.g., continued practice) to ensure compliance with administrative and organizat ional goals and objectives. Viewed through this lens a large scale conference such as the one examined here would be expected to best serve an establishing function.Professional Knowledge Implicit in most professional development e ndeavors is an expectation that knowledge acquired will be used in some fashion at a later time. In this realm, Eraut (1994) provided important frameworks to investigate and understand knowledge acquisition and use. Concerned not only with the re levance of the knowledge acquired, Eraut's work focuses on how knowledge is acquired a nd the relationship between knowledge acquisition and knowledge use. He argues that most professionals learn continuously, but he warns routine experiences do n ot necessarily add to the professional's knowledge base. Rather special circu mstances or unique occurrences offer the most fertile grounds for adding to the professi onal's knowledge base. Furthermore, Eraut embeds the concept of the professional knowle dge acquisition within the work context. Put differently, the nature of the profess ional's work plays a major part in determining what knowledge is learned, how it is le arned, and how that knowledge is (or is not) used (see also, Scribner, 1999). On the sur face, these ideas would seem to seriously limit the utility of large scale conferen ces conducted beyond the contexts of classrooms, schools, and districts. Eraut and others (e.g., Marsick & Watkins, 1990) have also attempted to describe various types or classes of knowledge. Generally sp eaking, Eraut frames professional knowledge as a triad of propositional, procedural, and personal knowledge. Propositional knowledge includes academic knowledge typically discipline-based, and


4 of 17theoretical knowledge. Propositional knowledge is c oncerned with describing actions and is often of little use to practitioners with im mediate needs. Limitations placed on professionals by the context of their work often re legate theories (propositional knowledge) learned in the classroom to the mind's a ttic never to be retrieved. Procedural knowledge is "how-to" knowledge professionals devel op that is needed to perform job tasks. Finally, personal knowledge includes "notes and memories of cases and problems which have been encountered, reflected upon and the orized to varying extents and with varying significance for current practice" (Eraut, 1994, p. 17). We kept these knowledge types in mind as we analyzed our data. By overlayin g these two frameworks, we hope to shed new light on both the promise and persistent p itfalls of large scale conferences.Methods This evaluative study takes a utilization-f ocused approach (Patton, 1997) to address the research questions outlined above. Working clos ely with the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), a major sponsor and fin ancial contributor to the conference, we designed an evaluation that would su mmatively show the merit (i.e., strengths and weaknesses) of such a large scale end eavor. Event and Participant Selection Due to the evaluative nature of the study a nd our close working relationship with sponsoring agencies (i.e., WEAC, Wisconsin Departme nt of Public Instruction, and the University of Oshkosh), both the case (i.e., the co nference) and the participants represent convenience samples (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998). The th ree-day conference on student performance assessment consisted of an array of wor kshops, round table discussions, work groups, consultation time with assessment expe rts, opportunities to work with school teams, presentations by invited speakers, as well as informal times for teachers to socialize and network with colleagues. Conference participants represented the gam ut of public education in Wisconsin including K-12 teachers, administrators, and other specialists, and higher education administrators. However, to answer the questions an d concerns raised by the sponsoring organizations we only surveyed full-time, public sc hool K-12 teachers, administrators and specialists. Furthermore, due to the nature of the population sampled two respondent "cohorts" were used. The first cohort represents al l full-time teachers, administrators, and specialists (N=301). Surveys from cohort I info rm the first research question and were administered during the opening session of the conference. Cohort II (N=101; a subset of the cohort I) represents those participan ts supported by WEAC to attend the conference. Along with financial support to attend the conference, professionals in cohort II were obligated to attend a post-conferenc e meeting lasting two hours. At this meeting participants responded to our survey that a ddressed the second and third research questions. (Note: throughout the narrative below we will refer to our findings by cohort to avoid confusion).Data Collection and Analysis To address our research purposes we designe d two written questionnaires to collect survey data from conference participants (See appen dix). The first survey, which cohort I (N=301) completed at the outset of the conference consisted of 1) demographic items, 2) information about whether or not they were part of a school team, and 3) how their


5 of 17expenses for the conference were covered to gain an understanding of participants' expectations of the conference and reasons for atte nding. We also asked a series of open-ended queries, including: 1) how they found ou t about the conference; 2) why the conference was of interest; 3) what they hoped to g ain from the conference; and 4) what activities in the area of performance assessment we re currently going on in their schools. Cohort II (i.e., participants whose conference fees were paid by WEAC) completed a post-conference survey that sought participant pers pectives on actual conference benefits, the role WEAC sponsorship played in their attendance, and how the topics and activities were connected to assessment issues and activities in their schools. We used two primary methods for data analys is. First, we completed descriptive and statistical analyses of all quantitative data. Next, narrative responses were transcribed and organized into text files by questi on. We then analyzed narrative data using a constant comparative method (Strauss & Corb in, 1990) in which we coded data, developed categories, and identified themes in the open-ended responses. Limitations This study focuses on the experiences of ed ucators attending a three-day professional development conference; further the pa rticipants surveyed represent convenience samples. As such, the findings from thi s study are limited in their generalizability. Nevertheless, we believe these da ta do provide an understanding of several issues including but not limited to the fol lowing: (1) participants' beliefs about their own professional learning and the linkage bet ween that learning and their work; (2) the expected and unexpected outcomes of large scale conferences; and (3) the ongoing tension between efficiency and effectiveness as the y relate to professional development.Findings We begin our discussion of findings by desc ribing the conference, its participants (cohort I), and their responses to the pre-conferen ce written survey. Data analysis on cohort I responses led to the formation of two cate gories: motivation for attending a large scale conference and utility of a large-scale conference. Data analysis on coho rt II responses informed our understanding of the possibi lities (or improbabilities) of connecting knowledge acquired at the conference to school and classroom practice. Description of Setting and Participants During the summer of 1996 WEAC, the Wiscons in Department of Public Instruction (DPI), and the University of WisconsinOshkosh sponsored the Wisconsin State Assessment Institute. These organizations vie wed the conference as an opportunity to support professional development in what one WEA C official described as a "hot topic area." WEAC earmarked money to support partic ipation in this conference by covering the conference registration fee ($150) and per diem costs. Participants had to cover the cost of transportation. Of the total possible number of respondents (N=301), we analyzed 299 usable surveys. Two hundred and thirty-seven females (76%) and 62 males (21%) completed the pre-conference survey (about 3% of the responde nts did not indicate gender). Slightly over 69% of the respondents were classroom teachers, 9% principals, 4% Directors of Instruction, and 14% other (e.g. schoo l and district administrators and


6 of 17specialists). Elementary teachers represented the l argest category of participants (52%). Overall, the sample represented a very experienced group of educators with an average of 17 years in education, nine of those years in th eir current positions. Seventy-eight percent were attending this conference as a member of a school team. Reasons for Attending a Large-scale Conference Financial support was a major inducement to attend the institute, especially for teachers. Most participants received financial supp ort from their school, district, and/or professional association to attend the three-day co nference. Only about 3% of respondents reported spending their own resources t o attend the institute. WEAC, for example, covered over 90 percent of conference cost s for approximately one-third of the participants (n=101). Among all respondents, 62% re ported paying less than 25% of the cost for the 3-day institute. In the post-conferenc e survey we asked cohort II respondents (N=101) whether or not they would have participated in the assessment institute if WEAC had not covered the majority of the cost. Twen ty-four percent indicated they would not have attended and four percent of respond ents were unsure. Only five percent said they would have attended even if their costs h ad not been covered. Educators were willing to give their time, but clearly they needed financial support. As an additional incentive, the Institute also offered all participa nts continuing education or graduate credit. Since all K-12 educational professionals in Wisconsin must earn an additional 6 graduate credits, or its equivalent, every five yea rs to retain their license, the financial support provided by school districts and by WEAC to its members coupled with credits toward license renewal were particularly attractive incentives. While financial incentives and credits for license renewal were important factors influencing participants' decisions to attend the t hree-day institute, the issues and topics addressed at the institute on student performance a ssessment also provided a strong incentive to attend. According to cohort I responde nts, recent adoption of performance based standards by DPI, mandated state-wide compete ncy tests for students at grades 4, 8, and 10, and increased public scrutiny of student learning outcomes, especially those that demonstrate proficiencies through performance, made the content and activities in this institute especially attractive and timely. Sp ecifically, our analysis of cohort I open-ended responses indicated that there were four primary reasons respondents attended the institute. First, the topics addressed and the varied professional development opportunities were relevant to current state-mandated performance assessment activities in their schools and/or distr icts. Second, participants wanted to know more about student performance assessments. Th ird, they believed that learning more about performance assessment would enhance the ir classroom teaching and student assessment skills. Finally, the three-day i nstitute provided participants, especially those who came as members of school team s (78%), a chance to work with colleagues for an extended, uninterrupted period of time. For example, when asked to explain why the conference on performance assessmen t interested them, they provided responses such as "It provides time to work as a te am;" or "Time to work with my colleagues from my school;" "A chance to work with the school team to learn and grow;" and "Time to work with colleagues on our pro jects." Expectations of Conference Utility We found that respondents primarily hoped t o gain an awareness of the concepts


7 of 17and theories, how-to knowledge, and political knowl edge from the conference activities. In most cases, respondents reported that they were in the early stages of performance assessment implementation in their schools. As a re sult, most respondents simply wanted to know more about performance assessment (i .e., Schlechty & Whitford's establishment function). What was it exactly? What are the key ideas, theories, concepts, and language they needed in order to be able to con sider its application to their current work? For many respondents, such terms as "rubrics" "portfolios", and "performance-based assessment" remained fuzzy abstr actions, not part of their current thinking, language, or practice. Respondents also hoped to gain other forms of useful knowledge. For instance, respondents wanted to know (1) how new forms of stu dent performance assessment work; (2) how to put together portfolios; (3) how t o communicate to parents clearly and confidently information about performance indicator s during conferences; and (4) how to integrate performance assessment into their curr ent teaching practices. For example one respondent commented on her interest in acquiri ng both procedural and propositional knowledge: I hope to walk out of here with a clearer understan ding of what performance assessment is and [what are] its components. I hope to have some concrete ideas, which can be, employed "day one" of this sch ool year. I hope to bring back some recommended strategies in which to divers ify our testing methods currently being used. These same respondents also hoped to gain insight i nto the dynamics and politics associated with changes in student performance asse ssment. That is, they wanted to learn more about how to disseminate information to their colleagues and communicate clearly the purposes and importance of new forms of perform ance assessment to parents, school board members, and others in the community. For ins tance, one person's comments reflected a common hope among respondents that the conference would provide her school's performance assessment team with the knowhow to influence others about the potential for new ways of assessing student work: The development of camaraderie among our team to work together to carry the messag e of performance assessment back to our district."Connecting Professional Learning to Work in Schools At the conclusion of the three-day institut e, we asked cohort II respondents whose participation had been supported by WEAC to complet e a second written survey. Of particular importance to us were these respondents' views on the enhancement and maintenance functions of conferences as a professio nal development activity (i.e., the connection between what they had learned and how th is might influence their professional practice). When respondents were asked "Do you plan to implement changes in the way you assess performance as a resu lt of information obtained at this conference?," 30% of the respondents indicated they were planning to make such changes. Only three percent of respondents said the y would not be making any changes. However, when we asked if their team or school was planning to implement changes in performance assessment, the number of affirmative r esponses dropped. Only 23% of respondents believed their school would be implemen ting changes in performance assessment, while 11% did not believe any changes w ould be made in assessment practices in their schools. These findings may refl ect the predisposition of attendees to


8 of 17reconsider their assessment practices while their c olleagues, not in attendance, were less likely to be making significant changes in their pr actices in the near future. Whether or not significant changes in teachers' performance as sessment practices will be successfully implemented in schools remains an empi rical question. Regardless of the outcome, like any innovation, successful implementa tion of performance assessment requires careful planning, adequate resources, and purposeful strategies for the dissemination and diffusion of the innovation. We were also interested in knowing what the se respondents would do with the knowledge and skills they had acquired during this three-day institute. When asked how they intended to share what they had learned when t hey returned to their schools, most participants (86%) indicated that they would share what they had learned with their colleagues. As encouraging as this appears, most st rategies mentioned for sharing information with colleagues were informal. In other words, few respondents described systematic ways in which newly acquired information on performance assessment and knowledge about assessment practices would be disse minated in their schools. The most frequently cited format was in meetings—faculty, te am, curriculum, and departmental (32%). Other strategies for sharing information inc luded working with colleagues and modeling particular uses of assessment practices in their schools (24%), staff in-services and workshops (18%), distributing printed materials (11%), and working in teacher study groups (7%). Sixteen percent of respondents i ndicated they "did not know" how information would be disseminated in their schools. The professional development of teachers an d change processes in schools require sufficient resources for optimal impact on the live s of teachers and students. We asked respondents to describe the types of resources, if any, that were available to support the implementation of new forms of student performance assessment in their schools. The most frequently listed resources revealed that thes e educators primarily looked inward. For example, according to 42 percent of respondents the quality and professional expertise of their own staff, teachers, and adminis trators were the most important resources available to support teachers' continued learning and successful implementation of performance assessment changes in their schools. This suggests that the respondents believed the richest (or perhaps th e only) possibilities to support teacher learning and substantive change, in this case perfo rmance assessment practices, were already in place in schools, not externally in some remote bureaucracy, corporation, or private benefactor. School level capacity was impor tant, but individual will and commitment were essential to successful change. In addition onsite professional expertise, existing staff development funds, and sc hool/district sponsored professional development activities were cited as key sources of support (24%). Another important resource was printed materials/literature (17%). Ex ternal funds (10%) and outside experts (7%) were also listed as resources availabl e. Twenty-seven percent of respondents indicated that there were no resources available, or if there were, they did not know how to access them.Discussion As noted earlier, we remain cautious about the generalizability of our findings because the survey respondents represented a conven ience sample of educators at one professional development institute. Despite this li mitation to external validity, we believe our findings highlight several important is sues related to the role of large scale conferences and workshops in the larger context of professional development. We organize our discussion according to the following topics: (1) this conference's place in


9 of 17Schlechty and Whitford's typology; (2) the types of knowledge educators sought (and perhaps acquired); and (3) factors that facilitated or impeded the usefulness of this often maligned professional development activity.Functions of a Large Scale Conference Clearly, this large scale conference served an establishment function. That is, the purpose of the conference (according to its organiz ers) was to introduce the latest concepts of and approaches to student performance a ssessment. Our data support that most educators expected to have basic questions abo ut student performance assessment answered at the conference. Most respondents indica ted they simply needed to know more about performance assessment. These findings a re consistent with others' perspectives on adult and professional learning. Fo r example, these findings parallel Hall and Hord's (1987) stages of concern model for educa tional innovations. According to Hall and Hord, at the early stages of any innovatio n, teacher interests center on awareness and informational concerns. Once dealt wi th adequately, then teachers' concerns shift to task and impact concerns. Our dat a from open-ended responses also indicate that teachers' stages of learning and leve ls of concern are similar to the sequence of stages in teacher career development: survival, exploration and bridging, adaptation, conceptual change, and invention (Huberman, 1989). During the initial stages of this innovation, i.e., changes in teachers' assessment p ractices, the survival stage is intertwined with what Huberman (1989) calls "discov ery." "Empirical studies show that these two aspects occur in parallel, and that the e xcitement and challenge of 'discovery' is what brings many teachers through the attrition of day-to-day 'survival'" (Huberman, 1989, p. 349). To a lesser degree, but worth mentioning, i s the maintenance function the conference served. Participants attended the confer ence during a time of great debate and legislative change in Wisconsin's education landsca pe. New state requirements were beginning to emerge and these teachers and administ rators wanted to not only increase their awareness of the initiative, but also, ensure that they were in compliance with the new legal requirements. However, this conference di d not show promise according to Schlechty and Whitford's enhancement function. Our findings suggested that while respondents (i.e., cohort II) did learn valuable in formation at the conference, it was not clear how that knowledge would be transferred to th eir own classroom practice or to their colleagues. Finally, we would be remiss if we did not m ention the opportunity to gain continuing education credits required by the Wiscon sin DPI as an important purpose of the three-day conference. However, as we describe i n the preceding two paragraphs, our skepticism (or perhaps cynicism) that participants were probably motivated more by the chance to "knock out" continuing education hours th an by intrinsic interest in learning an important topic on the state's education landsca pe was tempered by our findings. Knowledge Acquired Giving up three days of their summer break was strong evidence that these participants were interested in knowing more about assessment. The types of knowledge discussed by Eraut and others that we outlined abov e provide insights into the kinds of learning respondents claimed to have experienced. I n particular they wanted three types of professional knowledge: propositional, procedural and, what we call political


10 of 17knowledge That is, participants expected to learn the conce pts, theories, and language—or propositional knowledge (i.e., how to t alk about performance assessment), how to actually implement new performance assessmen t models such as portfolios in practice (procedural knowledge), and how to learn h ow others had successfully implement these new performance assessment models i n the face of potentially skeptical parents, the business community, and their own coll eagues (political knowledge). Factors that Facilitate or Impede Usefulness Inherent in this conference were several fa ctors that respondents believed facilitated its usefulness in spite of popular criticisms of th is professional development vehicle. First, the large scale nature of the conference pro vided the almost 300 respondents with numerous learning activities from which to choose. The availability of choices was important to participants given their varying degre es of awareness of student performance assessment. For instance, we found that elementary teachers (accounting for slightly over two-thirds of the respondents) de monstrated a better understanding of issues around student performance assessment, its l ink to teaching and the curriculum, and how various types of student performance measur es (e.g., portfolios, demonstrations, and projects) would be implemented in their classrooms than did their secondary school counterparts. Incentives and resources to support profess ional development are important. Time, money, and graduate credits for license renewal inf luenced respondents' motivation to participate in this institute. Without financial su pport from WEAC, from local school districts, or other agencies, respondents stated ov erwhelmingly that they would not have attended this conference. The financial support fro m WEAC, the largest teacher union in the state, also suggests that unions are beginning to reexamine ways in which they can support their members beyond contract bargaining an d the protection of members' rights to due process. This resonates with a recent statem ent on the role of teachers' unions by Bob Chase (1997), President of the National Educati on Association: Membership polls tell us that most teachers want th eir union to match its traditional emphasis on decent salaries, benefits, and working conditions with a more aggressive commitment to professionalis m and quality. And I agree. Our sights are set on tougher academic standards, stricter discipline, less bureaucracy, higher quality school s. These goals, shared by teachers and school boards alike, compel us to tran sform collective bargaining into a collaborative process negotiati ons focusing not only on traditional bread-and-butter issues, and also on is sues of employee involvement and school quality (Chase, 1997, not pa ginated). Furthermore, two other important themes eme rge from respondents' preferences and descriptions of what they hoped to gain in this three-day institute. The first is finding time to work with school colleagues. Given the repu tation of large scale professional development conferences in recent literature, we fo und it somewhat ironic that respondents viewed this conference as a place that provided the time and place for colleagues to collaborate. Although this finding wa s somewhat surprising, it makes sense given traditional school structures that ofte n result in teachers' career-long isolation from their professional colleagues. Teach ers' self-reliance as practitioners and as learners is evident in these survey data. In par t, this is a legacy of the one-room school where teachers were isolated from their professiona l colleagues and thus developed a


11 of 17powerful sense of individualism. Ironically, someti mes the only way teachers and principals can find the time to work together is to leave their schools. A second theme was the importance of social interaction in profess ional learning that cut across structured sessions and informal exchanges among th ese educators.Conclusion As we stated earlier, professional developm ent has risen in status to become one of the principal mechanisms to achieve the 1990's refo rm agenda. As professional development has become a primary strategy for refor m implementation, so has it gained the attention of not only school and district educa tional practitioners and policy makers, but state level policy makers as well. The results of this study of a state wide conference to educate practitioners about performance assessme nt underscore at least a few important points. For instance, from these educator s' perspectives workshops and professional conferences serve an important purpose by (1) introducing and demystifying often abstract reform concepts; (2) de privatizing teacher practice in ways that foster the "cross-pollination" of practical id eas; and (3) providing a venue for teachers and other educators—committed to addressin g daily moral imperatives of their work—to explore pressing issues that can broaden th e professional frames through which they approach their profession. However, as professional development takes on increased significance at the state and even federal levels, this study also highlights the need to strengthen linkages between schools, school districts, and state level education agencies (e.g., state departments of education and state teachers unions) While a majority of participants in this study attended the conference as part of a sch ool team, and many were supported by WEAC and/or their school districts, alarmingly few participants were confident that they could disseminate their newly acquired knowledge to colleagues in their schools. So, while large scale professional development conferen ces may have their place in overall professional development programs, coordination bet ween the various levels of our educational system must occur to ensure that the pr ofessional knowledge gained is internalized by teachers, principals, and others in to their respective practices.ReferencesBogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (1998). Qualitative research in education: An introduction to theory and methods Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Bredeson, P. V. (1998). Paradox and possibility: Pr ofessional development and organizational learning in education. A paper prese nted at Exploring New Horizons in School Leadership Conference at Umea University, Um ea, Sweden. Chase, R. (1997). The new NEA: Reinventing teacher unions for a new era. Presentation by Bob Chase to the National Press Club.Corcoran, T. C. (1995). Transforming professional development for teachers: A guide of state policymakers Washington, DC: National Governors' Association. Darling-Hammond, L. & McLaughlin, M. W. (1995). Pol icies that support professional development in an era of reform. Phi Delta Kappan April 597-604.


12 of 17Eraut, M. (1994). Developing professional knowledge and competence London: Falmer Press.Fullan, M. (1995). The limits and the potential of professional development. In T. R. Guskey & M. Huberman (Eds.), Professional development in education: New paradigm s and practices New York: Teachers College Press. Fullan, M. & Hargreaves, A. (1996). What's worth fighting for in your school? New York: Teachers College Press.Hall, G. & Hord, S. (1987). Change in schools: Facilitating the process New York: SUNY Press.Houghton, M & Goren, P. (1995). Professional development for educators: New state priorities and models Washington, DC: National Governors' Association. Huberman, M. (1989). On teachers' careers: Once ove r lightly, with a broad brush. International Journal of Educational Research, 13 347-362. Joyce, B. (Ed.). (1990). Changing school culture through staff development Alexandria, VA: ASCD.Lieberman, A. (1995). Practices that support teache r development. Phi Delta Kappan April, 591-596.Little, J. W. (1993). Teachers' professional develo pment in a climate of educational reform. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 15 (2), 129-151. Marsick, V. J., & Watkins, K. E. (1990). Informal and incidental learning in the workplace New York: Routledge. McLaughlin, M. W. & Oberman, I. (1996). Teacher learning: New policies and practices New York: Teachers College Press. National Commission on Teaching and America's Futur e (1996). What matters most: Teaching for America's future New York: The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future.National Commission on Excellence in Education (198 3). A nation at risk Washington, DC: Government Printing Office..National Foundation for the Improvement of Educatio n (1996). Teachers take charge of their learning Washington, DC: The National Foundation for the I mprovement of Education.Patton, M. Q. (1997). Utilization-focused evaluation: The new century tex t Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Schlechty, P. C., & Whitford, B. L. (1983). The org anizational context of school systems and the functions of staff development. In G. A. Gr iffin (Ed.), Staff development: 82nd yearbook of the NSSE (pp. 62-91). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


13 of 17Scribner, J. P. (1999). Professional development: U ntangling the influence of work context on teacher learning. Educational Administration Quarterly, 35 (2), 238-266. Smylie, M. A. (1996). From bureaucratic control to building human capital: The importance of teacher learning in education reform, Educational Researcher, 25 (9), 9-11.Strauss, A. L. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications. Weissglass, J. (1997). Deepening our dialogue about equity. Educational Leadership, 54 (7), 78-81.About the AuthorsPaul V. BredesonUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonDepartment of Educational Administration1282J Educational Sciences Building1025 West Johnson StreetMadison, Wisconsin 53706 Email: Tel: (608) 262-3886Fax: (608) 265-3135Over the past 19 years, Paul Bredeson's research ha s centered on alternative conceptions of leadership, especially in regard to school princ ipals. This interest is grounded in his professional work experiences as a high school Span ish teacher, high school principal, director of a bilingual administrator training prog ram, and as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania School Study Council located at Penn S tate University. More recently, his teaching and scholarly interests have focused on th e professional development and learning in educational organizations. Publications include Hart, A.W. and Bredeson, P.V. (1996). The principalship: A theory of professional learnin g and practice New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. and Bredeson, P.V. (1996). New directions in the preparation of educational leaders. Chapter in The International Handbook for Educational Leadership and Administration Eds. K. Leithwood and A.W. Hart. Amsterdam: Kluwer.Jay Paredes ScribnerUniversity of Missouri-Columbia211 Hill HallColumbia, MO 65211 Email: Phone: 573-884-1708Fax: 573-884-5714


14 of 17Jay Paredes Scribner is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri-C olumbia. His most recent research has focused on teacher professional learning, organ izational learning, and professional community.Appendix Survey ItemsCohort I Survey Gender: Indicate current position (official title): Level (e.g., elementary, middle, or high school): Number of years in current position: Total number of years employed in education: School size (approximate number of students): Are you attending this workshop as part of a school team? (If yes, how many people are in your team?) What percentage of total costs (including registrat ion, lodging, per diem, travel) of attending this three day conference is b eing paid by the following? (Indicate percentages) Personal funds School and/or district support Professional association (e.g., WEAC) support Other (If "other" please specify) How did you find out about this workshop? In the area of performance assessment, what activit ies are currently going on in your school? Why did this conference on performance assessment i nterest you? What are the three most important things you hope t o gain from this conference? 1. Cohort II Survey Name: District: School: School Address: Did you attend this conference individually or as p art of a school (or district) team? What did you learn about performance assessment tha t you believe would benefit you and your school? Please list up to 3 ex amples. How did you find out about this conference on perfo rmance assessment? Please specify. Would you have attended this conference if WEAC had not covered the cost of attending? Why or why not? What is your school currently doing in the area of performance assessment? Do you plan to implement changes in the way you ass ess performance as a result of information obtained at this conference? (Check one). Do you (or does your team) plan to implement change s in the way teachers in your school assess student performance? (Check o ne). 2.


15 of 17 If so, how do you plan to share what you have learn ed in the three-day conference in your school? Please explain What resources, if any, are available to support th e implementation of performance assessment in your school? Please expla in. Copyright 2000 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 8 5287-0211. (602-965-9644). The Commentary Editor is Casey D. C obb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for HigherEducation William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson New York University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University


16 of 17 Dennis Sayers Ann Leavenworth Centerfor Accelerated Learning Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Robert Stonehill U.S. Department of Education David D. Williams Brigham Young UniversityEPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Teresa Bracho (Mxico) Centro de Investigacin y DocenciaEconmica-CIDEbracho Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma Ursula Casanova (U.S.A.) Arizona State Jos Contreras Domingo Universitat de Barcelona Erwin Epstein (U.S.A.) Loyola University of Josu Gonzlez (U.S.A.) Arizona State Rollin Kent (Mxico)Departamento de InvestigacinEducativa-DIE/ Mara Beatriz Luce (Brazil)Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do Sul-UFRGSlucemb@orion.ufrgs.brJavier Mendoza Rojas (Mxico)Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicojaviermr@servidor.unam.mxMarcela Mollis (Argentina)Universidad de Buenos Humberto Muoz Garca (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicohumberto@servidor.unam.mxAngel Ignacio Prez Gmez (Spain)Universidad de Daniel Schugurensky (Argentina-Canad)OISE/UT, Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)Fundao Instituto Brasileiro e Geografiae Estatstica


17 of 17 Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los


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